Home > COM530 > Is the future of stuff enough?

Is the future of stuff enough?

Despite the fragile economy of these latter days of the 21st century’s first decade, we are being bombarded daily with the ‘widgetry’ of new things to come, the new magic of digital stuff.

  • Our phones of the future will wrap around our wrist and turn into matching color jewelry. Oh my!
  • Our paper magazine or book will have videos on the printed surface. Why? Never mind. Enjoy the experience.
  • We will be able to walk up to a touch-sensitive wall and move digital stuff and maps and clocks and flat fake furniture that is only a picture of furniture that you can’t sit on. This is going to be better. Trust me.

WAIT a minute, please. Is all of this possible? Yes, says Nokia, Apple, Motorola, Intel and especially Bill Gates and please don’t argue with Bill.

And probable? Is all this gigatry probable? Well? Most folks are on the side of maybe on that issue. It will have to be run through cost analysis studies. It will have to go through expensive testing. And wait until you see how a company called Musion rigged up their 3D holograph with Cisco’s TelePresence [their word]. Now this one is a real beauty. These folks put a 3-D life-size presence of a man right on stage. He appeared to be standing right across from a real man. But the fake guy’s real body was 5,000 miles away. I started getting confused about which was the real man. But I get the feeling we are going to have to wait a while on this one. It seems the outrageous cost of this can only come down with volume. So, some day apparently a lot of people are going to want to do this. Hmm? I’ve decided I don’t want to.

On this day of future thingking I was on the side of Walt Whitman who wrote:I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,…not one is demented with the mania of owning things.”

Thingking? No, not misspelled. It’s when your thingking is mostly about things, about a homage to stuff.

Today I was hearing about the possible while debating the probable but more interested in the preferable. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I am writing this from the future. How? As the author William Gibson said, “The future is already here; it’s just unevenly distributed.”

Unlike the many billions of humans on this planet who need a real future planned for them, too, I get to have an office and a life filled with all kinds of digital wizardry. Really nice stuff that should make us all happy enough. Who’s working on stuff for the billions of folks who aren’t even close to being happy enough? Who is deciding what is preferable?

The future technologies to become truly probable are dependent on real need. The old business directive and mission of finding a need and filling it is the economic backbone of any successful new media. We ‘speak’ our needs with our purchases and that’s what dictates future technologies. You don’t have to vote yes for that 3-D fake guy on stage either. Maybe he ought to be sent to a room to play with that wall with the flat fake furniture and flat fake balls that bounce but don’t really look like as much fun as a real ball.

Excuse me, I’ve got some Whitman to read.

Categories: COM530
  1. dparsonsmedia
    September 12, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Paul, I like the personality that shows through your blog. Some might criticize, but its the things that sets your blog apart that will make it memorable for people. I say keep up the good work!

  2. cbritain
    September 12, 2009 at 5:14 am

    But what if the ball LOOKS 3-D? Doesn’t that help?

  3. Janna
    September 12, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Your work is always a great read. You bring insights to light in creative, intriguing essays. Thanks for your inspiration and energy!

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